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In this week’s post, ShaRhonda Wingo, travel SLP at Advanced, shares her experience and common questions when treating adults.

Hey hey hey, I’m ShaRhonda Wingo, a travel SLP of 2 years. I’ve worked with school-age, adult, and geriatric populations in school, acute, and skilled nursing settings.

When people think of speech and language, they associate those issues with kids or something that occurs during childhood. Speech and Language problems can happen in your adult years too after a traumatic injury or getting sick. Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury, Oral Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, stroke, and infections can affect your speech and language skills. 

The role of the SLP for the Adult population is to test them to determine if there are any issues related to speech, language, cognition, and/or swallowing. The primary goal is to work with the patient and family/nursing or support staff to improve communication and swallowing.

What if I wasn’t trained in my graduate program?

This is a forever learning profession. You will always be a student. Research is always a good option. CEU courses and trainings are going to be your go-to resource. Plus, CEU hours are a non-negotiable for national and state licensure. You can also get certified in a specific area like Vital Stim or FEES. 

What resources are available?

Depending on the setting I try to incorporate the patient’s natural environment as much as possible. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box and get very creative. My absolute favorite tool right now is an app called Constant Therapy and it is free which makes it even better. WALC workbooks, The Source for Aphasia Therapy by Lisa Arnold, and A Workbook for Aphasia by Cat R. Kenney at CSU are some of the materials I use currently. The other day I used a lunch menu from the facility vending machine for Aphasia treatment. Think of ways that you can maximize what’s already in their environment. 

How do you involve family?

Family involvement is important and communication with them is key. You want strategies to carryover outside of therapy so you have to discuss with the family what you guys are doing and sometimes explain how that helps. Not all families are receptive so you may have to advocate for your patient. Remember that they want to hear the good news too. You can also find out what will elicit a better response from your patient. Like if they absolutely dislike sports, sports may not be the best approach in therapy.    

How do you get adults to engage during therapy?

I have had patients who really don’t like to participate in therapy with me. Partly because it may be hard for them or they don’t understand the need. To overcome that barrier, I build rapport, educate them and explain the need. Most importantly, I make therapy functional by using tools that interest them. 

Is it difficult to transition into different a setting or population? 

I think transitioning is only as difficult as you make it. That’s what I love most about travel therapy, being able to switch settings and gain experiences in multiple settings. 

Have any more questions? Our team of SLPs have you covered!